Golden State Warriors Stock Watch: Risers and Fallers Near Halfway Point
The Golden State Warriors are one of the NBA's biggest surprises so far this season.
They've reached the 20-win plateau before January for the first time since 1980 and closed out December with 12 of those wins, the most in any month since 1976. They have been without their supposed-anchor on defense in Andrew Bogut for the majority of the season, yet they are fifth in opponent field goal percentage and fourth in rebounding.
Despite the success and praise that has fallen upon the Warriors, they have had their fair share of both ups and downs.
With a new calendar year on the horizon, let's take a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling within the Warriors' organization.
Stock Up: Mark Jackson
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Entering his second season with the team, Mark Jackson continued to face questions about his inexperience and whether he was the right man to turn the Warriors into a legitimate contender. He was better-known for his coined phrases as an ESPN analyst rather than his coaching abilities.
It's safe to say that, at this point, Jackson has begun to silence his critics.
The Warriors' accomplishments reflect a team that is buying into what the coach is selling and Jackson has gotten this team to do that. They play with energy and an edge that was missing most of last season.
He still does head-scratching moments, such as not calling a timeout to disrupt a run that the opposing team is going on but, for the most part, Jackson's stock has been very much on incline this season.
Stock Down: Klay Thompson
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You're probably wondering how someone averaging almost 16 points per game and has made a three-pointer in every game except one could be trending downwards.
Two words: shot selection.
The strength of Thompson's game is of course his shooting ability, but that doesn't mean he needs to be chucking up every pass or offensive rebound that comes his way. There have been countless times where the Warriors have managed to collect an offensive rebound only for Klay to waste the possession by immediately putting up a three.
Many of his shot resemble desperation attempts: those that can be taken when the shot clock is about to expire and, as we all know, more often than not, those are bad shots. Thompson hasn't shot 50 percent once in the past nine games.
Early on, it looked as though he had added the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket which then created other shots for his teammates. That aspect has more or less vanished from his game.
He continues looks for his shot and his shot alone, and until he changes that mindset or at least gets more quality attempts, Klay's game will struggle to evolve and may even cost the Warriors games as the season progresses.
Stock Up: Jarrett Jack
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Jarrett Jack may come off the bench for Mark Jackson, but his importance to this team comes right behind David Lee and Stephen Curry.
Jack is the stabilizing force for Golden State's offense and a solid contributor on the defensive end
He doesn't post gaudy numbers or dazzle like the Steve Nashes or Chris Pauls of the league, but he does enough to get the job done. Like the aforementioned stars, Jack is willing to take the big shot for his team if need be.
He could easily be a starter for a good chunk of teams in the NBA right now, but he relishes his role as the first guard off the bench for the Dubs.
Stock Down: Harrison Barnes
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Barnes is almost the anti-Jarrett Jack; he is very active early on but, come crunch time, he's relegated to towel-waving duties.
The rookie out of North Carolina has shown flashes this season when he's looked like the player that the Warriors hoped he would become. But, from back at his career at UNC, there have been stretches in which he simply disappears and you almost forget he is on the court.
Barnes looked to be a steal at seven when the Warriors grabbed him and he very well could be but, as of right now, Barnes' inconsistency has been a reason fellow rookie Draymond Green has been eating into his minutes down the stretch.
Stock Up: David Lee
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With his stellar play this season, you hardly hear anyone question David Lee's contract anymore, and rightfully so.
Lee was always seen as a double-double machine rather than someone who could be the focal point of a winning team. He has erased this assumption so far this season.
The Warriors have turned to Lee in situations where they need a key bucket and more often than not, he has delivered. His 15-17 foot jumper looks almost automatic at this point and he's playing with a level of confidence not seen since Baron Davis circa 2007.
With Lee helping bring the Warriors back to relevance, it would be extremely difficult to keep him off the Western Conference All-Star team.
Even if he doesn't get the nod to head to Houston, it's clear his goal (along with the rest of the Warriors) is clear: to bring Golden State back to the playoffs and escape from the shadows of the Run TMC and "We Believe" teams, thus creating their own legacy for fans to remember in years to come.